Unlike his predecessor, President Donald Trump has not forgotten about American veterans.
When Trump ran for president, he promised to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs by implementing reforms that would improve the quality of life for veterans across our great country.
Under President Obama, the VA scandalously mistreated the veterans it was supposed to serve, even letting American heroes die while waiting for routine medical care.
“We’re going to take care of our veterans like they’ve never been taken care of before,” then-candidate Trump vowed months before the 2016 election.
It wasn’t uncommon for the future president to directly call out the failed leadership at the VA, either — as was the case during an October 2016 event in Virginia, when he called the department “a disaster.”
“I have gone to all over the country … and I see what [the veterans] are going through,” he said. “To see a doctor, sometimes it takes six and seven days and then you finally get there and the doctor is gone on vacation.”
There are nearly three-quarters of a million veterans in Virginia, a much higher proportion of veterans relative to the overall population than most other states. While I always believed that President Trump would keep his word to American veterans, I never expected him to accomplish so much, so quickly.
In August 2017, the commander in chief signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which updated and improved the claims and appeals process for VA benefits.
The following fiscal year, the department announced that it “exceeded its goal to deliver 81,000 appeals decisions of disability benefits and services,” even achieving the objective ahead of schedule thanks to President Trump’s legislation.
But that was only the beginning — in an effort to increase transparency within the VA, the administration also launched an “Access and Quality Tool,” an online platform that delivers health care data directly to veterans.
Likewise, the White House opened its own VA Hotline to help veterans navigate the often-labyrinthine bureaucracy at the VA, which has resolved a remarkable 94 percent of the 157,346 cases it has handled since June 2017.
Even with those reforms, the president recognizes that no government-run health care system can compete with the quality of service offered by private providers, which is why he signed the VA MISSION Act to give veterans the option of using their benefits at private health facilities if their local VA doesn’t provide adequate service.
Of course, Donald Trump also knew that the VA needed the proper resources in order to fulfill its mission, so he also signed the biggest VA budget in history last year, securing $86.5 billion in funding for the department, including $73.1 billion appropriated directly for medical care.
As a veteran, I couldn’t be more proud of the work this president is doing for the men and women who served this country in uniform.
Since his first day in office, Trump has remained committed to the goal of repairing a system that had been plagued by decades of incompetence and ensuring that America’s veterans receive all the benefits we’ve earned through our service.
Thanks to Donald Trump, being a veteran no longer means waiting in long lines to receive basic health care services, or being placed on hold when you call to ask for urgent help.
After being ignored for years, veterans finally have a commander in chief willing to fight on our behalf.